The stakes are high when it comes to fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the federal government is launching a new plan to deal with the problem. The Obama administration unveiled Sept. 18 a comprehensive plan to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which includes the implementation of a national strategy, the establishment of a new interagency taskforce and the launch of a $20 million prize to facilitate the development of a rapid diagnostic test that identifies highly resistant bacterial infections at the point of patient care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually cause a minimum of 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States.
The estimated annual impact of antibiotic-resistant infections on the national economy is $20 billion in excess direct healthcare costs, and as much as $35 billion in lost productivity from hospitalizations and sick days, according to a Sept. 18 White House blog on the plan.
The blog details an executive order directing the federal government to work domestically and internationally on the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and establishes an interagency task force, which will develop a five-year action plan for implementing the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. The task force also will review recommendations in the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technologys Combating Antibiotic Resistance report. The national strategy delineates goals, priorities and objectives, including preventing the spread of resistant bacteria; strengthening national efforts to identify instances of antibiotic resistance; working to develop new antibiotics, therapies and vaccines; and improving international collaboration on this issue.
These steps will help contain the spread of resistant bacterial strains, prevent the development of new resistant strains and help guarantee a steady pipeline of effective antibiotics and diagnostics, according to the blog.
By Feb. 15, 2015, the task force shall submit a five-year National Action Plan to President Obama that outlines specific actions to be taken to implement the strategy. The action plan is to include goals, milestones and metrics for measuring progress, as well as timelines for implementation.
According to the CDC website, the CDC will work to slow the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, step up surveillance efforts and improve international collaboration on the problem via its Detect and Protect Against Antibiotic Resistance Initiative and a National Healthcare Safety Network, for which federal funding has been requested.